Image - Black History Month Text

February 20, 2018

Southwestern Celebrates Black History Month: Looking Back at Our Trailblazing Black Alumni

We are proud of our commitment to diversity and our legacy of providing access to a quality legal education. From its start, Southwestern has encouraged the enrollment of women and minorities.

In celebration of it being Black History Month, we are looking back at our notable trailblazing African American alumni who have broken the mold and paved the way for others to follow in their footsteps.


Mayor Tom Bradley ‘56

Image - Mayor Bradley at Podium

Mayor Tom Bradley ’56 was the first African American Mayor of Los Angeles. He served an unprecedented five terms as Mayor from 1973 to 1993 - the longest tenure, still to this day, ever held in that position. Fun fact: Mayor Bradley was an evening student at Southwestern while serving as an LAPD officer during the day!


Hon. Vaino Spencer ’52


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Hon. Vaino Spencer ’52 was the first African American woman to serve on the bench in California and the third black female judge in the history of the United States. She also co-founded the Black Women Lawyers Association in 1975 and the National Association of Women Judges in 1979.


Hon. Arleigh M. Woods ‘53

Image - Hon. Arleigh M. Woods '53


Hon. Arleigh M. Woods ’53 was the youngest woman admitted to the bar at the age of 22, and only the third African-American woman admitted. She was the first black woman senior partner in a law firm, the only female supervising judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court and the first African-American woman to be appointed to the California Second Appellate District Court of Appeal.


Hon. Julian C. Dixon ‘67


Image - Hon. Julian C. Dixon '67

Congressman Julian C. Dixon ‘67 was elected to the California State Assembly in 1972 and to the House of Representatives in 1978. He was the first African American to chair the U.S. Congress House Ethics Committee. Dixon received many honors for his distinguished work including a metro line named after him and a plaque commemorating his role in obtaining the federal funding that enabled construction of the Metro Rail system. In 2004, Southwestern opened the Julian C. Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center, the most technologically sophisticated center of its kind in the western United States.

As we remember our trailblazing African American Southwestern alumni, we also look forward to welcoming the next generation of trailblazers. #GoBLSA #GoBisons